Eremophila – Nivea ‘Gubburra Bells’

By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs

Eremophila Nivea ‘Gubburra Bells’ is one of Australians native beauties, originating from Western Australia. Growing to a smaller height of 1-1.5 (5’) meters and in width, makes it the perfect native plant. With a compact and moderately fast growing habit.  

It’s a great grower for Melbourne conditions but does require an open sunny position with good soil drainage. The distinctive sliver foliage is a great visual aspect along with mauve tubular flowers. Flowering begins in late winter to early spring, with spot flowering during autumn. A recommended prune after flowering in mid spring to early summer is essential to stop any woody growth and will also encourage a compact and dense habit.

Eremophila – Nivea ‘Gubburra Bells’       Photo by Bonnie-Marie Hibbs

E. Nivea will benefit from a Native fertiliser after pruning. I personally find ‘Natural Natives’ slow release fertiliser to work quite well. It’s important with any Australian natives to use a native plant fertilizer, because they all contain low phosphorus levels, which is very beneficial to all native plants.

Soil types for E. Nivea; it isn’t too selective, but it is recommended if you have heavy clay to use gypsum instead of compost. In the case of sandy soils, use compost that has had time to dilute itself for a good period of time therefore reducing the phosphorus levels.  

Your browser may not support display of this image.  E. Nivea is a great drought tolerant plant, which is also suited to coastal conditions once established. E. Nivea can be difficult to grow in humid conditions, However it is defiantly worth taking up the challenge. E. Nivea is also known to be frost sensitive, but that certainly hasn’t stopped me giving it a go in my own garden.

It’s beautiful silver foliage and mauve flowers can really give a great contribution to any garden. E. Nivea is a good contrast plant and can really bring out the beauty of other plants, but is also a great single specimen. E. Nivea is also great to attract honey eating birds and other garden friendly insects.

More to the lupin plant than meets the eye.

If you have ever seen a garden bed of Russell Lupins in full flower they are nothing short of spectacular. They make a perfect background plant and while not flowering, also have very interesting foliage.

Now I can remember when the nursery industry sold lots of lupin seedlings. They were even available in single colours. Suddenly, a ban was put on the importation or Russell lupin seed. As growers, we were told that the seed may harbour the fungal disease anthracnose. This is a disease that causes bending and twisting of stems. The branches eventually collapse.

At first I was a bit disappointed until someone pointed out to me that the commecial lupin industry in Australia was perhaps worth $20  milllion, and so why should they tolerate a few home gardeners causing potential damage. Fair point. Now the seed for the nurseries is produced in Australia and the risk is therefore minimised.

Commercial lupins are mainly grown in Western Australia where they are grown to conditon the soil including generating nitrogen. It is also used for livestock feed, and as it turns out, these cows must have very low cholesterol and a minimised risk of heart attack. This is because some scientists have just got together and done some trials which include using lupin beans in flour. The results have been extremely postive in benefits to the body, that should reduce heart diease – in humans !

There is an excellent story on this at a website called Fresh Science. The link to their story is here.

Photo courtesy of Oasis.

Why use Certified Seed Potatoes?

Certified seed potatoes have been in hot demand since we got them in the nursery last week. Being the start of winter, it is still early to be planting, but some people just can’t wait to get them in. In most areas you would go from August to February, but in sandy frost free areas they can also be sown during June and July. In cool areas you need to plant 1 month before the expected last frost – sometimes a tricky question.

This year, potato growers are being especially urged to use only certified seed potatoes to help stop the spread of the disease Potato Virus Y. This virus has already cost the potato industry many thousands of dollars in lower yields and reduced quality. Althugh this virus has been around for many years, new strains that are more aggressive are appearing. It is becoming a global problem.

Although the virus can be transmitted by aphids and possiblt thrips, the smart way to control the disease is to not only control these insects, but definately  not to use infected plants for future planting stock. Infected plants can have mottling and yellowy chlorosis of foliage and the potatoes themselves can show major cracking, circular wounds or marks. It can quickly transmit through a growing district and could even affect home gardens.

Certified seed potatoes are now available at Gardenworld. They can be delivered in Melbourne for $20. For details go to our online shop.



Did Flemings have the best garden at Chelsea in 2011 ?

By James Wall

Ok,….so I may be biased, but Flemings show garden at Chelsea looked to be best in show, or at least a gold medal, but it was awarded a Silver Gilt. Well ummm, I only actually saw the gardens on Better Homes and Gardens last night, but I did just check out the 360 degree virtual tour on the Royal Horticultural Society website and still reckon it was close to the best.

Flemings garden

Of course best in show went to the Daily Telegraph for the third year in a row, who sponsored the garden designed by Cleve West – referred to by some as the Heston Blumenfeld of landscape design – how very British ! Ok, so it was a few poles with some nice flowers…….now now.

Cleve West – Best In Show

Of course the Australian Garden by The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne took out a Gold and was another feather in the cap for designer Jim Fogarty. It included bright orange sand which looked like it had come from the Simpson Desert. There was also a boomerang shaped water feature to really aussie-fy it.

Jim Fogarty designed Australian Garden
Why did Flemings not win a gold. I am thinking that maybe it was the white canopy – very stylish, but maybe too modern for the RHS crowd. If anyone went to the show, let us know what your thoughts were about seeing it in the flesh.

maybe the structure was too modern

Still, it looked like Wes Fleming was having a pretty good time. He laughed with the queen, talked to the Prince of Monaco and was honoured to meet Fergie’s daughter Princess Beatrice.

Wes entertains the Queen

Wes looks honoured to meet Princess Beatrice – both hatless.

Ok, so one of our staff in Justine actually did go to Chelsea, and when she gets back, we will post her review and see what she thinks. And even though Flemings didn’t take out a gold, Wes will be back down to earth as we speak, and in a couple of weeks, Flemings Nurseries will once again deliver thousands of bare root fruit and ornamental trees to nurseries all over Australia, including right here, at Gardenworld.

Hellebores with elegance.

By James Wall

My house has a northern garden. There is quite a bit of shade, but the midday sun still filters through in summer, and the northern winter sun also pokes through. It seemed like the perfect position for a few hellebores – long living winter flowering perennials of beauty.

The plants like a cold winter, are frost hardy and will do well in Melbourne gardens. If however you have sandy soil, add plenty of organic matter to improve the structure of the soil. You could grow them in pots, but the rhizome forms an extensive root system after a couple of seasons so they would be better suited in the ground.

Hellebore are closesly related to delphiniums and ranunculus, two of my favourite flowers but which prefer sunnier positions. But the shadier areas are where the hellebore shines, and it often works in that difficult situation like under a tree. In fact they would be perfect under a decidous tree – protected from the hot summer sun, but open in the winter.

In late autumn, new shoots will appear from beneath the ground. For many varieties, you should then remove the old foliage. This is also a good time to feed the plants with a balanced fertiliser and help them through this growing period. As winter drifts away, you will be rewarded with magical medium sized round flowers that really lift the garden at this time of year.

We currently stock a range called Winter Elegance (trademarked name)  which have been developed from one of Australia’s finest specialist collections.The breeders have rigorously selected the best stock plants and painstakingly hand pollinated to achieve more certain results. The result is a collection of quality strains of strong plants in amazing colours, and some with double flowers. This range sells out every year and is only available in limited numbers. Their main flowering period is June to September and they eventually grow to about 45cm wide and high.

Another awesome hellebore is the Ivory Prince. These plants are produced from tissue culture, so there is even less variation in quality. The flower colour is both classy, but unique in that they start off ivory white, and fade to a musky pink, and finally are brushed with a taint of green. They come from the renowned UK breeder David Tristram whose has selected a strain with lots of flower power and heads that sit up nicely, with very little droop. Six spikes with up to twelve flowers each is not uncommon. We will have good numbers of these plants for the next few months.

These strong plants could even take a sunnier position, but I would still mulch them well in summer, and give them some deep waterings. In winter, hellebores can survive with little watering.

So there you have it. A little bit of undergrowth with a really pretty flower, and a plant that you can get quite addicted to growing.


Melbourne 2011 Flower Show after thoughts.

By James Wall

In the aftermath of the show, it has given me time to think about my involvement and the efforts of others. This year was particularly relevent to me as we are looking at building a new garden and some retaining walls at home. You suddenly see things in a different light when they are plausible ideas you can utilise yourself.

got these plants the week before from a growers excess stock – lucky !

I used to be involved with the flower show (MIFGS) many years ago as a seedling and potted colour grower. The task was to grow the plants and have them flowering just on time. It was someone elses

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Great balls of plants !

One of the highlights of the Melbourne Garden Show this year was actually inside the exibition buildings and not out in the gardens. It was sponsored by Ford, which was a shame really, because they were giving away a $50,000 car and so their was a frenzy of patrons there, but they were all too busy filling out entry forms to notice what an interesting display of plants that was literally hanging around them.

what a good idea

I called these hanging plants plantballs. To me they appeared to be an inner core, which the sign said

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RHS Hanging Basket Competition 2011


The Royal Horticultural Society are a group of people that really love their horticulture. Each year at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, they hold a hanging basket competiton and this year there are over 250 baskets entered. The members involved put in hours of work to make this a success. Here are just a few of the baskets entered. If you would like to enter next year, you would be most welcomed. Beware, the competition is fierce !

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Walnuts top of the tree of health.

Walnuts are top of the tree when it comes to heart-healthy nutty superfoods.

Research  suggests regular consumption of nuts can reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and type-2 diabetes.

Until now it has not been clear which nut is number one in terms of health-giving properties.

To answer this question, scientists analysed the antioxidant content of nine types of nut: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias and pecans.

Study leader Dr Joe Vinson, from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, said: ”A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut.”

The year is March-ing on in the garden.

Well I can’t quite remember just how many times the lawn has been mowed in the last 6 months – but it has been a lot. It has also never been greener at this time of year, putting an extra bit of pace on the rubber cricket ball I have been zooming down to my son. People are starting to use a bit of the artificial turf, but I reckon you can’t beat a bit of frolicking about with the kids on the real stuff.  Down at Gardenworld, we have a shop called the Smart Water Shop and they are experts on not only water capture, but all types of grass or turf. They can tell you how to control weeds and what type of turf would suit your garden. You can buy premium varieties of turf or seed. 

People often ask for small evergreen trees and quite often they buy the dwarf gum trees. Included in these are the Silver Princess. (Eucalyptus caesia). This is the drooping gum that if you walk around most Melbourne suburbs, you will see many of. They will grow around 4 to 5 metres and once mature, the bark of the branches turns a silvery white. It is a very uniquely shaped tree that sometimes looks like the top half is growing upside down. 

Much more compact and upright growing gum trees are the ones that have been grafted. The grower has spent many years working out what rootstock to use and what varieties to graft on to the rootstock. They’ve ended up with a tree that only grows 3 to 4 metres. There are even some newer varieties that only grow 1 to 2 metres, and they flower there heads off, called Mini Red and Mini Orange. These are perfect for nature strips as the will never reach the wires. You will pay around $50 for the grafted gums, but you will be amazed at their compact size and beautiful flowers.


Being the start of Autumn, it’s definitely the beginning of the end for the spring flowers and tidying up and dead heading flowers with a trim will neaten up the garden. These may include climbers, lavenders and callistemons. Roses could be given a light prune and many will flush again in 4 – 6 weeks. I am going to plant some delphiniums because their tall stately blooms will look spectacular at the back of the garden bed. Did you know that from sowing delphinium seeds until flowering takes 28 weeks ! That’s over 6 months so I think I will start them from seedlings – probably the Pacific Giants mix which is full of blue, pink and white blooms. Plant now to ensure they get that winter chill that perennials need. 

Harvest time will be in full swing for apples and pears and some late peaches. Take the opportunity to remove excessive spurs and growth as you harvest.  Other deciduous fruit trees can be treated this way too to generally thin out a bit.  This will allow the remaining buds to mature and would reduce the amount of pruning required in winter. 

Bulbs to plant this month: 

Anenome. Daffodils, Dutch Iris, Freesia, Hyacinths, Jonquils, Tulips, Ranunculus 

Flowers to plant this month: Aquilegia, Calendula, Cineraria, Delphinium, Holyhock, Foxglove, Linaria, Nemesia, Pansy, Primula, Polyanthus, Poppy, Viola 

Vegies & Herbs: Beetroot, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Coriander, Garlic, Lettuce, Leek, Parsnip, Onions, Oregano, Radish, Turnip, Thyme

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